Bathurst villain lashes ‘toxic’ V8 culture
SCOTT McLaughlin has wrapped up back-to-back V8 Supercars championships but has taken aim at the politics in the sport.
Starting with his early domination as Ford switched from Falcons to Mustangs, McLaughlin was the hunted this season but took it in his stride.
By the time it got to Bathurst, the sport exploded into controversy.
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Officials investigated after ll further investigate Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard's "disgraceful" Bathurst 1000 safety car tactics after sensationally charging his Ford outfit with breaching team orders regulations.
Coulthard was initially slapped with a drive-through penalty after he dramatically slowed down and held up the field behind his Ford teammate McLaughlin.
While McLaughlin was cleared, DJR Team Penske was fined $150,000 with another $100,000 suspended until the end of 2021 and lost 300 points in the team series, reducing its lead over the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
But it mattered little as McLaughlin claimed the victory despite finishing the Sandown 500 in ninth.
McLaughlin had a bit of a bitter taste in his mouth though after being forced to start from the back of the grid.
It comes after an engine breach was discovered during qualifying at Bathurst with DJR Team Penske fined $30,000 for the engine breach.
It also saw McLaughlin's qualifying time removed from the record books with Chaz Mostert moved into the pole officially.
It finished off the year with some dramatic moments with a car crash on the Gold Coast also providing a scary moment.
But McLaughlin said it was annoying the season ended with politics taking a little of the sheen off his incredible year with concerns for the future of the sport. He also said he was looking forward to getting out of the "toxic paddock".
"It's crazy. My tough months are a lot better than others, that's for sure," McLaughlin said.
"I'm proud of what we've done. I'm proud of winning Bathurst and I'm proud of winning the championship, don't get me wrong.
"Off track, it's just been political and, unfortunately for the sport, it's getting like that and it has been like that all year. We're just going to have to push on and fight them off."
McLaughlin's bitter reflection comes after Red Bull Holding Racing boss Roland Dane said the penalties handed down after Bathurst were "lightweight", claiming the 26-year-old's win is "tained forever".
"To be honest it was soft and those guys keep getting penalties. It's not good for the championship and it's not something that has happened with this regularity before, last year and this year," Dane said.
McLaughlin has had an incredible year, winning a record 18 races.
All he needed to do was finish the race to claim the championship.
Despite the speculation around Bathurst and the early season grumbling about the Mustangs, McLaughlin shrugged off the outside noise.
"I don't care what anyone else thinks. I'm proud of what we've done as a team," he said.
"There's always conjecture and, basically, the majority of people are pretty upset about our year and they have been from the start when we started winning.
"Whatever - we push on as a team. I'm proud of everyone."
The penalty from Bathurst still left an ugly mark on the season and drew attention from his back-to-back championships.
DJRTP apologised for the incident, but emphasised there was no malice intended.
"The steward's report confirmed that there was clearly no intent from our team to circumvent the rules and there was no evidence that we benefited from any performance advantage," read the DJRTP statement.
"As the lift now measures a few thousandths of an inch high on a few valves, we can only conclude that either the engine wasn't measured properly when it was initially assembled or the damage that occurred in the engine contributed to a change to the maximum valve lift in the forward cylinders.
"We apologise to Scott, Alex, our partners and our supporters, and we will continue to focus on winning our second consecutive Virgin Australia Supercars Championship."
With their Sunday triumph, Whincup and Lowndes also take out the Enduro Cup, awarded for the overall points' winners from Sandown, Gold Coast and Bathurst. The Supercars season wraps up with the Newcastle 500 from November 22 to 24.